Arum's tuberous root stock is poison when fresh but edible when dried or sufficiently cooked.
Its arrowhead-shaped leaves are also poisonous when eaten.
It should be harvested in the autumn or before the leaves are produced in the spring.
It can be stored fresh in a cellar in sand for up to a year or can be dried for later use.
The root is diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, strongly purgative & vermifuge.
Root preparations can be used in cases of asthma, rheumatism, jaundice & dropsy.
A root decoction, or an infusion of dry powdered flowers, was used to relieve croup or bronchitis & a leaf infusion is a gypsy treatment for chills & colds.
Arum is used mixed with honey or syrup for internal use for bronchitis, asthma, chronic catarrh, flatulence & rheumatic problems.
A liquid from the boiled stem has been used in the treatment of diarrhea.
The bruised fresh plant has been applied externally in the treatment of rheumatic pain.
A tincture made from the plant & its root can be used in diluted doses for a chronic sore throat with swollen mucous membrane & vocal hoarseness.
5-10 drops of the tincture should be given with a tablespoonful of cold water to an adult 3x a day.
The berries were cooked in rose oil for earache & an ointment made by stewing the fresh sliced root with lard can be used to cure ringworm, sores & swellings.
Simmer arum with cumin in wine or oil to make a plaster.
Only the dried root should be used.
All parts of the plant can produce allergic reactions & should be handled with care.
Cuckoo pint contains the toxic calcium oxalate, which can cause irritation to the skin & blisters & if consumed can cause burning irritation of the mouth & throat, if swallowed it will produce a red raw state of the palate & tongue, with cracked lips & a swelling of the tongue so sever it can lead to extreme difficulty in breathing.
These extremely unpleasant sensations are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water.
If eaten, the red berries produced in autumn cause irritation in the mouth & throat which leads to swelling & pain & can result in difficulty breathing. It also causes an upset stomach.
If prepared incorrectly, it can be highly toxic, so should be prepared with due diligence & caution.
The root of the cuckoo-pint, when roasted well, is edible & when ground was once traded under the name of Portland sago. It was used to make a drink popular before the introduction of tea or coffee.
It was also used as a substitute for arrowroot.
Cuckoo Pint root was mixed with milk to get rid of freckles, spots, blemishes.
Believed since ancient times to be an aphrodisiac.
They used to say in Cambridgeshire that it was very unlucky to bring the plant indoors, for it gave TB to anyone who went near it.
Young girls in Dorset were told never to touch a cuckoo-pint; if they did, they would become pregnant.